Although he won't be racing the 2015 edition of the Tour de France, 2011 champion Cadel Evans (BMC) attended the unveiling of the parcours of next year's race in Paris and shared his thoughts on the route with Cyclingnews.
"It's a beautiful show most of all," he told Cyclingnews of his overall impressions of the 102nd Tour. "As a rider you sit here and watch the review of this year's race, it's a beautiful show, just seeing cycling on the big screen, that's fantastic."
"The new course? It's not much time trailing, it's my main thing," he added.
Evans' 2011 triumph was sealed with a commanding ride in the penultimate stage, a 42.5km time trial in which he overhauled a 57 second deficient to Andy Schleck to finish 1:34 minute ahead of the Luxembourger and secure the yellow jersey.
Evans, who will retire in February next year, believes the 2015 edition of the race will be one of two halves with a predominately flat first half that features cobbles, cross winds and hill top finishes to test the peloton, while the second half, characterised by summit finishes in the Alps and Pyrenees, which will decide who takes home the yellow jersey.
"I think again the first ten days, like this year's Tour, will be very difficult just to get through safely so that's that first step to doing a good general classification," Evans responded when asked which stages stand out.
"Beyond there, it's all going to come down to the hill top finishes in the Pyrenees and Alps which I think we are going to see more in favour of [Nairo] Quintana, [Vincenzo] Nibali if he's of course at the same level as this year, and then of course [Chris] Froome and [Alberto] Contador who will have to be good and also put up a good battle."
During his time with BMC, Evans was regularly spotted at the front of the peloton with the likes of George Hincapie and Marcus Burghardt keeping him safe and out of trouble. Asked how he would race the first week of the Tour, Evans reiterated the need to remain alert and be in the first few wheels of the bunch.
"At BMC, being a team also built for the classics, we had riders very well suited to that and having guys in the past like George Hincapie alongside me, guys like that who know these roads, know that racing very well, staying out of trouble, staying at the front and having a good team around you to keep you out of trouble," he said of how he would approach the race.
The reintroduction of time bonus, for the first week only, will also see a new dynamic to how the Tour will be raced and Evans believes this will create an intriguing first week of racing.
"Certainly [Alejandro] Valverde for example might be able to take a few seconds there [Mûr-de-Bretagne], and not having the time trial, maybe that will balance things about a bit there where a non-pure climber will be able to take back seconds because its more adapted for the riders who have a bit of a sprint as well on both the Mur de Huy and Mûr-de-Bretagne," he said of how the bonus seconds will affect the GC battle.
"It will of course be interesting and difficult to get through [but] it will be exciting to watch. In the second half of the Tour, I think we'll see a whole turnaround of whatever happened in the first ten days because it's going to come down to the climbing legs of everyone."
And after three weeks of racing a total distance of 3344km, who does Evans tip for the win?
"I'd like to think Vincenzo Nibali because he lives so close by to me but I think going into the second half, we can't discount Quintana at all with the hill top finishes being so important.
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